‘NCIS,’ ‘FBI’ debut strong for CBS but NFL still gives NBC the win in TV ratings race

A man in a suit holds out a handgun to a man in a flannel shirt.
Rocky Carroll, left, and Mark Harmon in the season premiere of “NCIS” on CBS.
(Cliff Lipson / CBS)

The season premiere of CBS’ “NCIS” was the top-ranked non-NFL program in the first week of the 2021-22 prime-time television season and “NCIS: Hawaii” was the highest-rated series premiere.

“NCIS” averaged 8.451 million viewers for its first original episode in its new 9 p.m. Monday time slot, sixth among the broadcast and network prime-time programs airing between Sept. 20 and Sunday. It landed behind two NFL games, two NFL pregame shows and one postgame show, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen.

“NCIS” was the only non-NFL program to average more than 8 million viewers and was among seven that topped 7 million.


“NCIS: Hawaii” averaged 6.582 million viewers following “NCIS,” most among the week’s seven season and series premieres, ninth among non-NFL programs, first among programs beginning at 10 p.m. and 15th overall. “NCIS: Hawaii” retained 77.9% of the audience for “NCIS.”

CBS also had the second-highest-rated premiere, “FBI: International,” which averaged 6.427 million viewers, 11th among non-NFL programs, third among programs beginning at 10 p.m. and 17th overall.

“FBI: International” retained 90.3% of the audience of “FBI: Most Wanted,” which preceded it. “FBI: Most Wanted” averaged 7.119 million viewers, seventh among non-NFL programs, third among programs beginning at 10 p.m. and 13th overall.

NBC’s lone premiere, “Ordinary Joe,” averaged 3.852 million viewers, 23rd among non-NFL programs, fifth among programs beginning at 10 p.m. and 30th overall. The heartfelt, life-affirming drama retained 53.3% of the audience of the two-hour season premiere of “The Voice,” which preceded it.

“The Voice” averaged 7.221 million viewers, fourth among non-NFL programs and 10th overall.

The premiere of ABC’s rebooted version of “The Wonder Years” averaged 3.23 million viewers, 35th among non-NFL programs, sixth among comedies and 43rd overall. It retained 89.1% of the audience of “The Goldbergs,” which preceded it.


“The Goldbergs” averaged 3.624 million viewers, 27th among non-NFL programs, third among comedies and 35th overall.

Fox had all of the three lowest-rated premieres.

The season premiere of “The Masked Singer” averaged 4.739 million viewers, 18th among non-NFL programs and 25th overall.

The new series “Alter Ego” averaged 2.933 million viewers, 46th among non-NFL programs and 55th overall. The avatar singing competition retained 61.9% of the audience of “The Masked Singer,” which preceded it.

“Our Kind of People” averaged 1.646 million viewers, 74th among broadcast programs, and “The Big Leap” 1.474 million viewers, 87th overall. The overall positions were not available for the drama about the Martha’s Vineyard community that has long attracted the Black elite and the scripted drama about a group of diverse, down-on-their-luck people attempting to change their lives by participating in a potentially life-ruining reality dance show.

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” was the week’s most-watched prime-time program, averaging 19.693 million viewers for the Green Bay Packers’ 30-28 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Mason Crosby’s 51-yard field goal as time expired.

NBC averaged 6.57 million viewers to win the network race on Premiere Week for the third consecutive year, thanks to “Sunday Night Football” and having the second through fourth top-ranked non-NFL programs, the Tuesday episode of “The Voice,” “Chicago Fire” and the Monday episode of “The Voice.”


CBS finished second, averaging 4.4 million viewers. Fox was third, averaging 3.44 million viewers for its 16 hours of programming, including one hour of NFL programming. ABC was fourth, averaging 3.03 million viewers.

NBC broadcast four hours of NFL programming in prime time. CBS and ABC did not have any prime-time NFL programming.

ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” game on Sept. 20 had the biggest audience for a cable program and was ranked third overall, averaging 11.902 million viewers for the Green Bay Packers’ 35-17 victory over the Detroit Lions.

The NFL coverage enabled ESPN to end Fox News Channel’s 11-week streak as the most-watched cable network. ESPN averaged 2.664 million viewers for its prime-time programming. Fox News Channel was second, averaging 2.356 million, and MSNBC was third, averaging 1.302 million.

HGTV was fourth, averaging 958,000; TLC fifth, averaging 837,000; Hallmark Channel sixth, averaging 784,000; and Discovery seventh, averaging 776,000. CNN was eighth after three consecutive seventh-place finishes, averaging 757,000 viewers.

“Manifest” vaulted three spots to return to the top of the list of most-streamed programs in the first full week that the final 12 episodes made for NBC streamed on Netflix. Viewers spent 1.388 billion minutes watching the 42 episodes of the supernatural drama between Aug. 23 and Aug. 29.


“Manifest” has topped 1 billion minutes for seven weeks and finished first six times. Netflix announced Aug. 28 it had ordered a 20-episode final season of “Manifest.”